City of San Antonio Partners with City of Austin to Support Asylum Seekers

CONTACT: Donald Sparks 210.207.4456

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 13, 2023) — The City of San Antonio is partnering with the City of Austin to coordinate travel support to help asylum seekers reach their sponsor destinations across the United States in a timely and efficient manner. This assistance is designed to provide a humane and efficient way to support the City and its partners and not disrupt nor delay travelers at the airport.

This assistance, which began on Jan. 11, 2023, has been developed into a partnership with the City of Austin as San Antonio has recently experienced significant fluctuations in the number of people seeking transportation from San Antonio. Asylum seekers are legally permitted to move throughout the country and this partnership is designed to ensure their transit is done in a humane and coordinated way.

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"San Antonio will continue to be a welcoming, kind and compassionate city," said Maria Villagomez, City of San Antonio Deputy City Manager, "we are grateful to our neighbors in Austin for partnering with us to make sure asylum seekers reach their host city destination."

The City of San Antonio will continue to seek full reimbursement from the federal government to cover costs related to the assistance of asylum seekers. Prior to departure from the City of San Antonio, all asylum seekers will have completed initial processing and will be pre-booked for flights leaving from the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) before they leave the City of San Antonio's Centro de Bienvenida (Migrant Resource Center).

"Austin stands ready to support our neighbors in San Antonio as well as those individuals seeking asylum in the United States," said Juan Ortiz, Director of the City of Austin's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "We have a longstanding partnership with San Antonio, and this is our opportunity to return the support they provided to us in previous situations. Our goal is to support our neighboring cities, help asylum seekers be able to reach their sponsor destinations safely and with dignity, while also maintaining a busy airport and capacity to continue to respond to local emergency needs."

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San Antonio anticipates that between 40 and 120 asylum seekers will be arriving on buses to Austin each operating day to make a pit stop at a Transportation Assistance Center in the City before being taken to AUS to board their pre-booked flights. This is to ensure effective use of staff resources and that airport operations continue to run efficiently utilizing existing airline capacity. There are no increased flights or airline activity due to this operation in AUS or SAT.

Catholic Charities of San Antonio will also be providing the City of Austin with a 24/7 phone helpline for assistance in rebooking asylum seekers who have delayed/missed flights.

Filed Under: Government, City

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